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Oct 5th 2017

How to Come up with a Topic for Your Dissertation

It's the most important piece of work that you have written so far, and the level of difficulty depends on the topic. It's none other than your dissertation, which will interfere with your life. Don't ever think that you won't see the daylight, as coming up with a topic can set the pace of your work. You may wonder if it's similar to a novelist thinking about a new book. There's a common ground somewhere, and the premise might be weirder than you think. A good example would be Douglas Adams's comic science-fiction series, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, where the omnipresent narrator argued that mice and dolphins were more intelligent than humans. These aquatic mammals at the marine mammal parks would warn the (human) spectators about the end of the world, but the latter rather saw the former delighted at the bucket of fishes. (And the humans thought that the sounds coming from the mouths of the dolphins were "THANK YOU" repeated many times.) It's all about originality.

You have to think of a subject that has not been studied before. If there's already a written text about it, then look for a gap and find an angle. It's easier said than done, but you can end up staring at a ceiling for hours. And you haven't left the bathtub. You can write a memoir about it, if not used it as an opening of your first novel. You can think about it later, as Dissertation Day (or D-Day) is a serious matter. Thinking of a good topic is the first step, a rather important one.

Let's assume that you're about to do a dissertation on a subject related to literature. You have read too many novels, which should help you come up with a topic in a few days (at the most). It's farther than you wish for. Don't panic.

3 Ways to Select the Right Topic

Choose what field that interest you most. D-Day will be less overwhelming if you pick the topic that you are passionate about. You must allot lots of time on this time, so there are three things to do. Start early, but don't ever think that this move would enable you to enjoy the outdoors during your limited time. (Everything must take a backseat.) You must do some (preliminary) research, as you figure out that there are lots of literature to support your argument. You already have an idea, but you're uncertain of it. You can find it out as early as possible. Frequent visits to the library will enable you to check out on previous works (by former students), which might be related to what you're about to do.

Do a thorough research. You think that your numerous visits to the library would be good enough, not to mention the long hours you have to spend in front of the computer screen. Your topic may not be found there, though. Recall your secondary reading list, which you didn't pay too much attention during your first year (in the English Department). It took a few months before you discovered the significance of archived papers. You lose sleep over documentaries, but you gained valuable knowledge. (And you got a top mark on one of your essays.) These references could provide you with an array of weirder topics, which should show you a path that has never been discovered before. Think of the possible existence of unicorns, where Philosophy students would resort to metaphysical theories to argue about it.

Choose your dissertation supervisor wisely. What's a member of the faculty got to do with it? Plenty. Your supervisor will be your lifeline during this challenging time, so your chances of greater (or little) success will lie on him (or her). If you think that you're not getting the right advice, then you have to look for another one. Make sure that you would do it early, and that you have a valid reason (to do it). Some supervisors could tell you that you're not scholarly enough, which means that you might not be able to do adequate research on your chosen topic. You could disprove it right away, as your (preliminary) research have given you all the ideas you need to defend your proposed topic. Keep an open mind, as you might stumble on something you overlook or haven't thought about before.

A Few Things to Remember Before You Start on your Dissertation

Family and friends will be curious about it, and you want to give them a grand picture of what you're about to do. Don't expect them to be impressed by it, as parched manuscripts that might have links to Shakespeare wouldn't be as exciting as fireworks during New Year's Eve. Your grade won't depend on them, so keep it short. A longer explanation may confuse them. It might change your mind on the topic.

You'll be tempted to press the panic button when you're thinking about a change of topic. Don't think too hard about it, so it will be better to distract yourself. (TV might help you forget about it for a while.) You'll even dislike D-Day. Allow yourself (to feel that way). Consider the very thought of changing the topic when you have an outline and schedule. You may not have time for doing it over again. The topic that you have thought about could be THE one for you.

You don't have any control on your schedule, as D-Day will be your priority. Don't be obsessed with it, as there will be changes along the way. You might lose count of it. You only need to complete your dissertation, and you must keep on reminding yourself about it.

Are You Still Struggling With Your Dissertation?

Check out our next article “7 Signs You Might Need Academic Writing Help

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